Beset by the tormenting grip of musth, he is transformed into a rampaging whirlwind of destruction. He oozes a slimy stream of lust and lunacy from the mouth and other bodily orifices. He stomps on shrubs and snaps acacia trees like they were nothing but famished reeds. Between his colossal legs, he drags a spectacle of an appendage slightly larger than the whole of an obese man. And he attempts to mate with everyone and everything, without asking questions. Size is not an issue, neither is species; a hippo is fair game. So is a luckless rhino. And a buffalo. Even a warthog, its famed inelegance notwithstanding, is a target for this mass of lust. Never mind any of these unwilling mates would be crushed just by a fraction of the enraged bull’s weight. He head butts plants and animals alike. He rams his tusks into the innocent earth, goring its soul and soil. He trumpets and rumbles and ruins and rampages like he has the demons.
He is a gigantic beast, with a brain powered by an immense storm of testosterone and a body driven into fits of frenzy by a terrifying force of nature: lust and the unyielding need to quench this biochemical thirst. The furious desire to mate and impregnate and conquer. And the irrational willigness to pulverize anyone or anything that stands in the way.
Nature lovers obviously see the outline of a rutting male elephant, driven beyond the borders of madness by sexual hormones. Those who keenly observe the Kenyan security forces’ reactionary means and methodology will draw more than a few uncanny similarities between these two beasts.
Whenever they face the need to respond to incidents of insecurity and criminality, the Kenyan security instruments behave exactly like a rutting jumbo. They switch off their brains, or whatever it is that they have in its place. They surge in a phalanx of rage, and visit unconscionable levels of violence upon the same civilian population they ought to protect. They are unbound by the demands of the rule of law. They bludgeon and batter and bruise everyone they come across. They kill and maim and loot and destroy and, yes, rape. In almost every sense, they are as irrationally violent as the sexually incensed elephant and, in at least one aspect, they are much more destructive.
The description above is that of a sexually frustrated young bachelor elephant. In the presence of older dominant patriarchs, the youngster’s antics are completely subdued. He cowers under their sagacious watch and bottles up the desirous antics ignited by the internal hormonal dynamics. There is someone that makes sure he falls in line. The Kenyan security forces are not so lucky; their elders sanction their violence. Right from the training school, they drill in them the application of brute force at the expense of logic. They goad them towards impunity and reward them for their destructive mentality. With frightful nonchalance, they instruct the civilian population to prepare to be used as punching bags by the otherwise impotent police force.
This is what the police boss told the people of Garissa this week. ‘Yule sio mhalafiu…pia ataumia’, he observed (even the innocent will be punished). This ignoble lecture was made even more nauseating by the servile clapping of those listening to this irrational speech, including the area Member of Parliament .
The only person who visibly objected to this atrocious piece of bovine intellect was an elderly man whose remonstrations earned him a torrent of fists and boots as the public watched. This single incident crystallizes everything the Kenyan people in general and North Easterners in particular have been going through since the dawn of independence – at the hand of the same forces hired and maintained by their own tax money to protect them. This precisely explains why the fight against crime and insecurity looks more like a hopeless scrimmage and less like a real fight. Both criminals and the security forces target the civilian population in a brainless spiral of banditry that only ends up making the lives of innocent civilians that much more miserable.
The scorched-earth tactics and collective punishment policies of the 1960’s and 70’s have never been refined, and the Kenyan police force keep borrowing from their archaic manuals whenever they attempt to respond to incidents of insecurity.
In the 1990s when banditry was used as a justification to cordon off the province in a counter-intuitive emergency regime, the policing methodology was exactly the same as it was in the 1960s and not very different from what we see today. They responded to criminality by imposing stifling curfews, beating up villagers and raping their girls and shooting their livestock. They rounded up anyone unlucky enough not to possess an ID, as if those with IDs were not capable of committing crimes. They herded them in police cells until the next morning when they would all be released in exchange for bribes.
This demented tactic is still in force today, as evidence by the ongoing police operation in Garissa. The focus seems to be on rounding up undocumented persons rather than criminals and their weapons. The logic seems fairly straightforward: the former will pay money to get out of the stinking police cells, the latter will not. The former will be a sustainable source of income, as those arrested today pay tomorrow and get out, only to be nabbed again the next night, ad infinitum. Finding criminals and their guns just is not as lucrative. This is an industry; a pathetic merry-go-round that generates more money for the racketeering police force and increases the feeling of helplessness and humiliation among the innocent civilians who are losing their lives and livelihoods to criminals and terrorists.
We all remember the shocking violence inflicted on Garissa at the onset of the current spate of killings, when a rogue (really?) contingent of the Kenyan military descended on the town killing, maiming, looting and setting residential and business premises ablaze. And they got away with it; the spineless NEP political leadership was notable for its ear-blasting silence.
The ongoing operation is unlikely to be productive since it seems to be predicated on a number of scandalously idiotic premises:
One, the assumption that whoever is behind this killing orgy does not have a Kenyan ID. The criminals must be aliens from Somalia or from outer space. Documented Kenyans do not kill. They do not rob. They do not partake of terrorist machinations. Someone needs to tell these police agencies that there is nothing scientific or artistic in this demented thinking.
Two, the application of brute force will be sufficient to neutralize the terror machinery. Kick the backsides of as many mama mbogas as you can, and the Al Shabaab cells will slip back across the borders. Whoever wrote the manuals for this bungling police force obviously did not have the brains to conceptualize that those behind this wanton killings do not care about how many elders get bludgeoned by the police, or how many ugly shacks get torched by the government-sponsored pyromaniacs. Whoever it is, these killers have well calculated plans and objectives, and these blind stampede will not stop them.
Three, collective punishment strains out the bad guys. Again, the police manual is atrociously wrong. What collective punishment does is merely alienate more of the good guys and make it ever so difficult to establish and maintain a working relationship between the security forces and the civilian population. You need informants and advisors and collaborators from within this same population if you have any intentions of making gains against this runaway insecurity. What is there now is an astoundingly massive chasm of mistrust, indifference and hostility separating the public from the police force, and that is why the latter seem like headless chicken in their putative struggle against crime. Oppressing the public only widens this fissure and make it even harder to start any useful lines of communication. If you want the civilian population to cooperate with you and furnish you with the tips that are vital to combat crime, it surely is grossly stupid to think you can kick them into embracing you.
If the police conduct – and especially the insular demeanor of the police bosses – is anything to go by, it is safe to assume that they have not even contemplated the probability that the masterminds of this killing spree may actually be planning to turn the public against the security apparatus and the government. It makes a lot of sense, but obviously not to the police.
These irrational practices are all reflective of the dismaying dearth of intellectual investment in the security agencies of the country. It is a pestilence that bedevils the forces right from the processes of recruitment, through training, management and performance appraisal. The instruments and tactics consistently employed reek of the ‘adui yako nani?’ ‘ Raia!’ philosophy that the personnel seem to imbibe from their training colleges.
In an era when the country is supposedly surging forward in the development of institutional reform, it is despicable that the police force seems to have been left behind. The intellectual quality of the people recruited into the service has not changed much since the colonial times. And until that changes, the security sector will continue to grope in the dark as crime soars.